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NH and Irish Eyes Seeing Signs of Global Warming

March 17, 2008

Holderness, NH – The emerald in the "Emerald Isle" could be fading away, even as those of Irish heritage or inclination celebrate St. Patrick's Day. A new report by the Irish-American Climate Project has found evidence of global warming in Ireland, and the results aren't pretty. However, energy choices in the United States could make a difference, a New Hampshire environmental spokesman says.

Ireland's green countryside may soon be mixed with brown as its climate changes and its rainfall swings from drought to violent downpours. The Project's report says signs of global warming are as apparent on the Emerald Isle as in the Granite State, with average temperatures in both rising by 1.4 degrees in the last century.

Report co-author Kevin Sweeney says his findings shouldn't put a damper on holiday celebrations, but it's something to think about after the parades end and the pubs clear out.

"We want people, when the parties are over, to realize that there's more to being committed to Ireland than just celebrating on St. Patrick's Day. If you care about Ireland's green, if you want to help it stay green, then the job becomes, 'How do we change our energy policies?' 'How do we change our relationship to carbon?'"

Will Abbott, of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, is a member of Governor Lynch's climate change task force. He points out that New Hampshire and Ireland share some of the same climate threats.

"Whether it's what we're seeing in this latest report from Ireland or what we're seeing in terms of New Hampshire's maple sugar, it's clear there are impacts people are beginning to observe that will drive public policy-making."

Sweeney's report also warns of more 'bog bursts' (large peat slides resembling California mudslides) and tougher potato farming due to longer summer droughts. Sweeney doesn't think Ireland will suffer the worst consequences of global warming, but says the problems that accumulate will be "heartbreaking." He calls for "green" energy choices in the United States to help turn things around.

John Robinson/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NH